5 minute read

So the year isn’t technically over yet. There’s still a good couple of weeks for things to go completely south. I’m travelling first thing next year so I thought I’d get my year in review in early.

In many ways, I feel this has been the year where those in power have revealed their true nature: incompetent, greedy and self-interested. It feels like many more people are waking up to the fact that the power structures do not serve them. There are no excuses left for the behaviour of the ruling representatives. The emperor has no clothes and everyone is laughing at him. Everyone knows he is naked and dangerous. It is a shame that we had to push the situation to the extreme to recognise the inherent problems in the system.

I’m mostly talking about my home country here and the clusterfuck of stupidity and incompetence that is the current Tory minority government. But it equally applies to the US, where the poorly written 80s low-budget film villain that is Trump somehow lumbers on. If there is one good thing about the Trump presidency, it is that by being so openly terrible he exposes the structures that were there all along. So by being openly racist, he exposes the racist problems that underlay American society to a wider audience. By being a misogynistic abuser he shows the struggles and danger women have been exposed to for years. By tweeting cofefe he exposes the danger of tweeting while falling asleep. Ok, that last one isn’t necessarily important, but the point stands. He’s highlighting the problems of the USA by making them impossible to ignore. No longer can the issues be swept under the carpet because he does not have the veneer of respectability. He is openly hostile and abusive and not even pretending to be anything else. It’s impossible to compliment the Emperor’s clothes when he is dancing naked two feet away from you.

Obviously, these problems have been inherent in the system for years. No one has listened to the victims, or discounted them, or tried to silence them. This year the problems became unavoidable. Those in privileged positions could no longer pretend to ignore the voices of women speaking out about abuse for example. They can try, but the voices have become deafening.

So that’s the USA. Here though, it’s been a different story. Racism has been highlighted by the ongoing fallout from Brexit. It has become clear there is no reason for leaving the EU other than open racism. We are becoming an insular nation and will be poorer for it, economically and culturally. Like Trump, the extremity of Brexit only serves to highlight the problems that were in our country all along. The xenophobes and racists didn’t just emerge fully formed by the vote in 2016 but they were there all along. It took the ongoing black hole of reason that is Brexit is to bring them out into the daylight.

All this would be fine if we had decent politicians. Time and time again through this year, the leaders of this country have proven themselves to be utterly incompetent. Instead of acting in the nation’s interest, it is clear they are working for their own end. Even the Queen has offshore taxes. Our Prime Minister has entirely acted in her own self-interest this year. With Trump demanding constant attention like an overgrown toddler, somehow Theresa May managed to grab headlines by being even more incompetent. I’ll give her this: she has somehow clung to power like a boa constrictor clings to a zebra. Beyond that, she has been utterly useless. Look at her hit list this year: Triggering article 50 with no clear plan and no impact studies done, spending ages delaying the negotiations by not agreeing to clear terms the EU set out as well as well as the ultimate sin of giving Micheal Gove another chance. Worst of all though was when she called a snap election to increase her sizeable majority, then acted like a robot throughout the campaign and refused to meet the people she was supposedly going to represent. She went into the election with no clear plan other than naked arrogance. “Vote for me, you idiots” was her basic message. She ended up losing her overall majority. The whole farce of the election was such a stupid, idiotic move showed how terrible a leader she really is. It was so nakedly in her own self-interest that it exposed her and the whole parliament as completely self-serving. It always has been, but as with Trump, it’s really hard to deny now. Everyone is laughing at the Emperor.

There’s a problem with all the laughter. The power structures are still there. The emperor may be naked but he is still in control and he can still have you killed. Trump may be the laughing stock of the world but he still has his finger on the nuclear button. He can still use the system to give the rich even more money or to attempt to take healthcare away from millions of poor people. May still clings to power and she is gambling with the whole of the UK future with Brexit. She capitulated last week and made the start of a deal, but it’s taken months of uncertainty and flailing wildly to get to this point. If her government can’t secure a deal then we crash and burn out of the EU. Millions of people will suffer. Those in power will likely get off scot-free because that’s the way the system is set up. Laugh at the farce all you want, but we need to start demanding better. The resist movement in the US has been a great example of keeping the pressure on, saying this is not normal. In contrast, there’s been almost no public kickback against May since the election and it is sorely needed. Enough of the British repression, enough of pretending thegovernment knows what it is doing. Now that more people are aware of the problems, I hope 2018 brings changes. Because the danger of thinking our leaders are terrible is that we might start to normalise it. We might expect our leaders to be useless, expect them to be racist, sexist thugs. We might stop hoping for better.  That is the most dangerous path. If we do not demand change, we might say in a year, the Emperor has always been naked. It’s just the way it is.

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